The Rebels rocked the Blues in a second half fightback but fell short of a stunning win.
The Blues won 36-32 after leading 29-10 at halftime.
The hosts outscored the Australians six tries to five but needed a Rene Ranger moment of class to break the Rebels momentum and halt a comeback that had reduced the early advantage to just four points at 29-25.
Ranger’s try in the 72nd minute restored a two-score advantage but the Rebels got two bonus points for their efforts with a last minute try to fullback Jason Woodward.
The Blues back three were outstanding in the first half and winger Frank Halai scored three tries in the first half, but the hosts were not in the match in the second half.
The Rebels forwards controlled the last 40 and with 10 minutes to go looked the likelier winners, such was the dramatic turnaround in the game.
Rebels flyhalf James O’Connor struggled with his goalkicking, missing three times and replacement kicker Jason Woodward also missed twice. Blues flyhalf Chris Noakes missed four of his seven kicks.
It was not a good evening for O’Connor who took a heavy blow to the chest and he only lasted 25 minutes before being replaced because of the injury.
Blues – Try: Frank Halai (3), Francis Saili (2), Rene Ranger. Conversions: Tim Noakes (3).
Rebels – Tries: Mitch Inman (2), Scott Higginbotham, Lachie Mitchell, Jason Woodward. Conversion: Woodward (2). Penalty: Woodward.